HPV, or human papillomavirus, is an STD that normally affects the genital region, but can also infect the throat and mouth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it infects the throat or mouth, it is referred to clinically as oral HPV. Some oral HPV types are known to cause cancers in the neck and head and are classified as high-risk oral HPV; other types of oral HPV are low-risk types that don't cause cancer but that can cause warts in the throat or the mouth.
While most cases of HPV go away on their own without causing health problems after the body fights them off, others can cause cancer of the head and neck. When the immune system is unable to fight off the HPV virus, it can cause oropharyngeal cancer, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This type of cancer usually takes years to develop following an infection. Medical science is unsure if HPV alone causes it or if it HPV combined with using tobacco products or other factors that causes the cancer to develop.
The symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer include hoarseness, earaches, sore throat and unexplained weight loss. Other symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes and pain upon swallowing. Some people have this type of cancer without any symptoms being present at all.